Social Factors affecting Consumer Behaviour

Consumer Behaviour is an effort to study and understand the buying tendencies of consumers for their end use.

Social factors play an essential role in influencing the buying decisions of consumers.

Human beings are social animals. We need people around to talk to and discuss various issues to reach to better solutions and ideas. We all live in a society and it is really important for individuals to adhere to the laws and regulations of society.

Social Factors influencing consumer buying decision can be classified as under:

  • Reference Groups
  • Immediate Family Members
  • Relatives
  • Role in the Society
  • Status in the society
  1. Reference Groups

    Every individual has some people around who influence him/her in any way. Reference groups comprise of people that individuals compare themselves with. Every individual knows some people in the society who become their idols in due course of time.

    Co workers, family members, relatives, neighbours, friends, seniors at workplace often form reference groups.

    Reference groups are generally of two types:

    1. Primary Group - consists of individuals one interacts with on a regular basis.

      Primary groups include:

      • Friends
      • Family Members
      • Relatives
      • Co Workers

      All the above influence the buying decisions of consumers due to following reasons:

      They have used the product or brand earlier.

      They know what the product is all about. They have complete knowledge about the features and specifications of the product.

      Tim wanted to purchase a laptop for himself. He went to the nearby store and purchased a Dell Laptop. The reason why he purchased a Dell Laptop was because all his friends were using the same model and were quite satisfied with the product. We tend to pick up products our friends recommend.

      A married individual would show strong inclination towards buying products which would benefit not only him but also his family members as compared to a bachelor. Family plays an important role in influencing the buying decisions of individuals.

      A consumer who has a wife and child at home would buy for them rather than spending on himself. An individual entering into marriage would be more interested in buying a house, car, household items, furniture and so on. When an individual gets married and starts a family, most of his buying decisions are taken by the entire family.

      Every individual goes through the following stages and shows a different buying need in each stage:

      • Bachelorhood: Purchases Alcohol, Beer, Bike, Mobile Handsets (Spends Lavishly)

      • Newly Married: Tend to purchase a new house, car, household furnishings. (Spends sensibly)

      • Family with Children: Purchases products to secure his as well as his family’s future.

      • Empty nest (Children getting married)/Retirement/Old Age: Medicines, Health Products, and Necessary Items.

      A Ford Car in the neighbourhood would prompt three more families to buy the same model.

    2. Secondary Groups - Secondary groups share indirect relationship with the consumer. These groups are more formal and individuals do not interact with them on a regular basis, Example - Religious Associations, Political Parties, Clubs etc.

  2. Role in the Society

    Each individual plays a dual role in the society depending on the group he belongs to. An individual working as Chief Executive Officer with a reputed firm is also someone’s husband and father at home. The buying tendency of individuals depends on the role he plays in the society.

  3. Social Status

    An individual from an upper middle class would spend on luxurious items whereas an individual from middle to lower income group would buy items required for his/her survival.



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